Carton Flow Rack: Which Type is Right for you?

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Carton flow rack

Carton flow rack is one of the many places in the material handling world where gravity is used to assist in the transportation of products. Carton flow utilizes a slightly declined array of rollers or skate wheels to provide an efficient, steady supply of product to an employee picking product for various applications.

Loading the product from the back of the rack and picking from the front allows employees to work simultaneously, keeping all products stocked on shelves without ever crossing paths, which in some instances allows for up to 75% increases in productivity. Thanks to the constant flow of product to the front of the racking, carton flow provides condensed product storage that follows the first in first out product rotation keeping each product on a shelf for as short of a period as possible.

There are many different carton flow rack types, and each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the products that will be in the system and how the system will be implemented.

Full Width Roller

Skate wheel rack

Full width skate wheel rack

Full width roller flow racks provide the ability to drop into existing pallet rack beams and create lanes of rollers spanning the full width of a bay. If you plan to use pick trays, totes, or any other product that has little to no variance in size in your system, full width rollers are a great long lasting option. The disadvantage of full width rollers come from the fact that you are restricted to each lane of rollers and are unable to adapt if your containers change.

Flow Rail Lanes

Flow rail lanes provide the ability to drop into existing pallet rack beams and consist of 2 or 3 rails of wheels positioned based on the size of containers. These rollers can easily be reconfigured for new products and lane widths. These rails are typically cheaper than full width rollers but tend to require much more maintenance and do not provide good product tracking.

Full Width Skate Wheel

Full width skate wheel flow racks provide the ability to handle products of various sizes without any required reconfiguration. This provides added upfront expense but allows for an optimized space no matter how your product sizes vary over time.

Tilt shelves

Tilt shelves for easy picking

Tilt Shelves

Any of these carton flow methods can be enhanced for split case picking with the addition of tilt shelving at the end of the lanes. This allows for operators to quickly and efficiently identify the product they are searching for and move on to their next task.

Selecting the right carton flow rack system is not an easy process on your own. We can assist you in selecting the proper options for your needs. For more information, please contact us.

Zach Taylor is a Project Engineer with Bastian Solutions out of the Louisville, KY office. He graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. With a background in design, industrial engineering, and a degree in engineering, he combines these skillsets to provide unique solutions paired with great service to his customers. His expertise includes conveyor systems, process improvement, and goods-to-persons technologies.

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